Vietnam needs to strengthen measures to achieve the sustainable development of seafood exports to the EU market, especially after the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) came into effect, according to experts.
The country gained $183.4 million in seafood export value to the EU in two months after the EVFTA came into force, said Phan Thi Thu Hien, lecturer and expert on EU market from the Foreign Trade University.
“The EUTR1 certificate of origin [C/O] applications of exported seafood accounted for nearly 80 per cent of total C/O applications, ranking second in the top export commodities,” Hien said.
Vietnamese exporters have had good compliance with the rules of origin to utilise the EVFTA, she said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has also supported Vietnamese firms in complying and successfully applying the preferential EUTR1 C/O, including introduction and communications about the EVFTA and its rules of origin, training and consultancy, help desks, and manual and e-guidance publications.
The EU is one of the biggest export markets of Vietnam’s fish and fish products with a value of $1.3 billion last year, accounting for 15.1 per cent of the total seafood export value of Vietnam.
However, the country’s seafood products exported to the EU are mainly semi-processed products, according to the Vietnam Institute of Economics and Fisheries Planning.
In addition, the EU is a large market with many import orders while Vietnam has not developed production and processing chains so it has missed many chances of exporting seafood to the EU.
To have efficient and sustainable seafood exports to the EU, the government and competent authorities need to have training programmes and public-private dialogues about illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and the EVFTA, Hien said.
They need to modernise and standardise documentation and fishery statistics, she said. They should also apply information technology- (IT-) driven risk management and control and develop IT infrastructure, applications and platforms.
For local farmers and export processing firms, she said, they should know about fundamental principles of the EU’s IUU fishing regulations, preventing violations. Those could ensure efficient seafood exports to the EU market.
They should also actively participate in training courses about IUU fishing and the EVFTA.
Bach Van Hanh from the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said the directorate has enhanced control for imported raw materials of seafood to meet requirements on product origin.
It has improved existing processes to ensure traceability in processing plants and monitor certified materials for processing in factories, he said.
Besides that, Vietnam should solve problems relating to residue levels of banned substances in export seafood products, said Dao Trong Hieu from the agriculture ministry’s Agricultural Product Processing and Market Development Department.
It needs to complete standards and regulations for Vietnam’s seafood products, meeting the EU market regulations, he said.
Vietnam should also take full tax incentives from the EVFTA to promote seafood exports to the EU.
If Vietnam removes the yellow card warning about implementing the IUU fishing regulations and takes full tariff incentives under the EVFTA, its seafood exports to the EU in the next five years are expected to reach between $1.2-1.5 billion each year, Hieu said.
VIET NAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK